Josh Ruffels has signed a contract to join Oxford United – more than a decade after leaving the club’s youth set-up.
The midfielder will form part of the U’s new development squad, putting pen to paper on a 12-month deal following a successful trial.
It marks a return for the 19-year-old, from Kidlington, who was originally in the club’s youth system before joining Coventry City at under eight level.
Ruffels came all the way through the Sky Blues academy, making his first-team debut in the Championship against Crystal Palace two years ago.
But he made just one other senior appearance and was released last season.
Coventry’s loss is United’s gain, as far as manager Chris Wilder is concerned.
He said: “The development squad looks strong and Josh is a player we think has every chance of coming through and being a first-team player on a regular basis.
“He is an Oxford lad who perhaps slipped through the net when he was a boy.
“The way the club has rebuilt the youth side of things means that we are now able to attract good players with great potential again.
“He is level-headed, wants to work hard at his game, and we are delighted that he has committed his future to the club.”
Ruffels is the fourth young player released by higher- ranked clubs recruited by United this summer for their new development squad.
He joins Matt Bevans (Watford), Kenzer Lee (West Ham) and Josh Shama (Reading), who have been identified as potential future first-team players.
The quartet will take on other development sides, made up mainly of players under 21, while acting as back-up to the senior squad.
They join a homegrown core of youth team graduates Callum O’Dowda, Sam Long and Dave Lynn, along with second-year professionals Max Crocombe and Tyrone Marsh.